The decision to postpone the Olympics until 2021, although a logical one, has presented Japan with a huge logistical challenge.
First of all, it is not yet clear when the Games will now occur, with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) just saying that it will be beyond 2020, but no later than the summer of 2021.
Secondly, there are a whole host of questions that organisers need to answer concerning venues, ticketing, accommodation and security. For example, the athletes’ village, once the Games are over, are due to be renovated and turned into luxury apartments, and hundreds of these have already been sold to eager buyers. And then there are the venues – will these all be available on the dates that the Games are now scheduled to take place?
Hotels are another issues – tens of thousands of beds will have to cancelled and then rebooked for 2021. And then are the security arrangements which will all need to be worked out in exact detail once more.
Meanwhile, there is the fate of the Olympic flame to consider which is already in Japan, and which was due to begin its torch relay across the country from Fukushima on Thursday. Does it stay in the country until next year, or does it return to its spiritual home in Greece, and then have to be re-lit all over again?
The Japanese people have been broadly supportive of the decision, although one Tokyo daily newspaper claimed it was an embarrassment.
There is though a collective sense that, seven years of planning and hard work has been put back to square one, and with the 2021 sporting calendar already crowded, whether the Tokyo games will have the same prominence as once was hoped may be in doubt.
As a symbol of what has happened, Olympic countdown clocks across Tokyo have had to be reset. Instead of counting down the days, hours and minutes until the Games were due to start, they just show the current date and time.
There can be no issue that the right decision has been made to postpone the Olympics, with the world facing a much greater challenge in the form of the coronavirus epidemic.
However, the hurdles to be overcome in staging them a year later than planned should not be underestimated. Japan has already invested US $12.6 billion to host these Games, and that cost is about to rise significantly.